With Opening Day less than a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2018 Orioles every day as they try to bounce back from a disappointing last-place finish a year ago.
INF Tim Beckham
Opening Day age: 28
Contract status: Under club control through the 2020 season
2017 stats (between Tampa Bay and Baltimore): .278/.328/.454, 22 HR, 62 RBI, 67 R, 6 SB, 575 PA, 3.3 WAR (Baseball Reference)
Why to be impressed: The former first overall pick couldn’t have had a better start after being traded at the deadline, collecting 18 extra-base hits and posting a 1.062 OPS in the month of August. Previously regarded as a draft bust with the Rays, Beckham set career highs in batting average, home runs, OPS, RBIs, extra-base hits, walks, and plate appearances to finally become a major league regular.
Why to be concerned: Beckham came crashing back down in September by hitting .180 and posting a .603 OPS in September, but he wasn’t helped by a .226 batting average on balls in play. The infielder was able to lower his strikeout rate upon being traded, but his career 29.7 percent mark would be second worst behind only Chris Davis on the current club and he only walked 5.2 percent of the time in 2017.
2018 outlook: He’s said and done the right things moving to third base, but you wonder how Beckham will handle a position change on top of trying to continue his 2017 improvement at the plate. Remaining committed to using the opposite field (27.7 percent in the second half of 2017 compared to a 21.5 percent career mark) would keep him consistent enough to play every day if he can at least be average at third.
Not-so-scientific projections for 2018: .267/.314/.438, 24 HR, 69 RBI, 81 R, 5 SB, 639 PA, 2.2 WAR